hand and foot rules title

OBJECTIVE OF HAND AND FOOT: Play the hand and foot while making the needed melds and collect the most points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 6 players

MATERIALS OF HAND AND FOOT: Five 54-card decks (52 cards + 2 Jokers)

TYPE OF GAME: Card game

AUDIENCE: All ages


Hand and Foot is a rummy card game related to Canasta. In Hand and Foot, players are dealt two sets of cards: the hand, which is played with first, and the foot, which is then played after. Similar to many other famous card games around the world, Hand and Foot does not have standard rules and is also played with variations of house rules. This means that even once you get familiar with this game, there are many ways to spice it up so that you never get bored of it!

The game generally has 4 players consisting of 2 partners in each team. However, this game can be played with any number of people ranging from 2 to 6.

Are you ready to learn this awesome card game? Read on for the official Hand and Foot card game rules! Note that the instructions below are the best fit for a 4-player game with partners.


Hand and Foot is typically played as a partner game, with partners sitting across from each other at the table. Choose one pair of players to deal first. They must shuffle the cards, and then one person takes the deck. The dealer proceeds to deal each player a stack of 13 cards and pass them clockwise until each player has a hand. Then, the other partner does the same and deals each player the foot, which also consists of 13 cards. These two stacks of cards must remain separate.

hand and foot hand foot rules

The remaining cards are put then in the center of the table and form the stockpile. Flip over the top card face-up beside the stockpile; this card starts the discard pile. If the card happens to be a 3 or a Joker (wild card), bury the card within the stockpile and flip over a new card.

Place the ‘foot’ stacks around the stock and discard piles. Players then pick up their ‘hand.’ The play begins with the ‘hand’ dealer. Note that players cannot look at their ‘foot’ yet! This pile must be face-down.


Below are the values of cards in the game. These values count for you (or your team) if they are melded and against you (or your team) if they are not at the end of the game.

  • Jokers: 50 points each
  • 2s & Aces: 20 points each
  • 8-King: 10 points each
  • 4-7: 5 points each
  • Black 3s: 5 points each


Both teams can collect bonus points in addition to the card values. These points also count toward your team’s score if they are on the table and against your score if they are in hand.

  • Each Clean Book: 500 points
  • Each Dirty Book: 300 points
  • Wild Book: 1500 points
  • ‘Going Out’: 100 points
  • Each Red 3: 100 points
hand and foot melds going out 3s

I know these terms may be confusing right now, but keep reading the Hand and Foot rules to discover exactly what these terms mean!


Play begins with the player to the left of the ‘hand’ dealer and passes clockwise. Remember: the objective of the game is to get rid of all the cards in your ‘hand’ and then your ‘foot’ by melding the cards. Play continues until someone ‘goes out.’

Before your turn, place red threes face-up on the table. The number of red threes placed on the table must be replaced by an equal number of cards drawn from the stock.


A typical turn consists of:

  1. Drawing two cards form the top of the stockpile.
  2. Melding cards (see below for melding rules): start a meld or add to a meld (yours or your partner’s).
  3. Discard a single card to the top of the discard pile, face-up.

Red threes drawn from the stock must be directly placed face-up on the table and a new card must then be drawn from the stockpile to replace it.

You may not start a new meld and meld cards on your turn you must choose which action you wish to do

If you do not wish to draw two cards from the stock you may draw seven cards from the discard. The whole pile may be collected if it contains less than seven cards. If you wish to draw from the discard pile, these are the following requirements:

  1. The top card of the discard cannot be a (black) three.
  2. You must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard.
  3. (At least) three cards must be immediately melded, which is why you must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard pile.

As always, complete your turn by discarding a single card to the discard pile.

NOTE: Partners cannot have two incomplete melds of equal rank. A book must be completed before you start a new meld of equal value.


In Hand and Foot, you will be playing a total of 4 rounds to complete the game.

Each round poses a minimum requirement for the total point value of the cards that make up the first meld created in a partnership. In other words, before your team is officially in the game, your team must put down cards whose individual face values add up to the minimum requirement.

  • Round 1: 50 points
  • Round 2: 90 points
  • Round 3: 120 points
  • Round 4: 150 points

Red 3s and complete book bonuses do not count.

Multiple melds may be started to reach this point requirement. If you are picking up from the discard pile, the three mandatory cards to meld may count toward this stipulation. However, the other 6 cards drawn do not count towards the points needed for the meld. Cards in the initial meld can be wild cards.


In order to play Hand and Foot, it’s important to understand how to meld, as this forms the backbone of the game. As noted, the objective of Hand and Foot is to get rid of all your cards by forming them into melds as in any traditional rummy game.

A meld is formed with 3 to 7 cards of equal rank, such as three 8s. A seven-card meld is called a book or a pile. Square up all books, unlike a fanned meld, which indicates it is still in the process of being added to (i.e., the meld has fewer than 7 cards).

The card on top of the completed book indicates the kind of meld.


  • Red card for clean books. Clean or natural melds have no wild cards present.
  • Black card for dirty books. Dirty melds have just one or two wild cards.
  • Joker for wild books. Wild melds have only wild cards present.
hand and foot rules melds

While teams may have books of the same rank, teams cannot start a new meld until the same ranked meld has been completed first.

Place the cards face-up on the table.

Besides creating and forming new melds, you may add onto a meld of the same value. In this variation of Rummy, melds also belong to partners, as opposed to simply the individual player. This means either player in a partnership may add to any of the melds they both create—unless the meld has already reached seven cards and has become a book.


Melds are formed with cards from A, K, Q… all the way down to 4. 3s, however, may not be melded in a normal way.

Red Threes count for a player if it is laid down on the table with their melds. However, it counts against them if it is not. What does this mean? Well, you should place red threes immediately face up on the table and draw a new card from the stock to replace it. You can find red threes in your hand, the stock, the foot, or the discard pile. However, if someone ‘goes out’ (gets rid of all their cards) before you have grabbed your ‘foot,’ and there happens to be a red three present, that three counts against you.

As mentioned in the scoring section, a red three is worth 100 points. That’s 100 points for you if you put it down, and 100 points subtracted from your point total if it’s still in your hand at the end of the round.

Black Threes can only be used to block the next player from picking out the discard after you discard it. Black threes left in your hand count for minus five points on your score. For more on this, check the Hand and Foot Card Values section above. Keep in mind that you cannot play black threes; you can only discard them.


Twos and Jokers are wild cards. You can use wild cards to substitute any card in a meld, as long as there are twice as many natural cards in the meld as there are wild cards. However, with that said, a meld may be made entirely of wild cards, also called a wild book. In fact, you need to form one wild book before ‘going out’ in order to win the round.


After you get rid of all the cards in your ‘hand,’ you may pick up your ‘foot,’ and continue playing as usual. You can pick up the foot in one of two ways:

  • All cards in the ‘hand’ are melded, the foot is picked up, and a single card from it is discarded, OR
  • All but one card of the ‘hand’ is melded, the last card is discarded, and the foot is picked up.

In this version of Hand and Foot rules, there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.


Players score points for cards they have melded and subtract points for cards left in hand and foot after a player goes out. The play ceases once one player has managed to play both their ‘hand’ and ‘foot’ cards. That player has ‘gone out.’ There are three conditions players must satisfy before going out:

  1. The partnership must have completed 2 dirty books, 2 clean books, and 1 wild book.
  2. The other player in the partnership who hasn’t gone out must have picked up their ‘foot’ and played at least a single turn from it.
  3. You must receive permission from your partner to go out, meld the remainder of your cards but one, and discard the last card. If your partner denies you, you may not go out.


The play ceases when either:

  • A player successfully goes out, under the stipulations discussed above, OR
  • the stockpile is depleted and players do not wish to draw from the discard.

If your partner does not permit you to go out, after melding, you must have two cards left: one to discard and one to continue playing with.

At the end of the game, players score their books and melds, including bonuses that apply. The team with the greatest number of points after four rounds wins.


There are many variations of rules when it comes to Hand and Foot. You can mix and match rules depending on how you want to play. Here are some of the more common house rules you are likely to come across when playing this game:

  • 11 Cards, Not 13: Instead of distributing 13 cards to each player’s hand and foot, you can deal 11 cards for each hand and foot.
  • No Wild Books: In this rule variation of Hand and Foot, you cannot have a book made up of only wild cards. You can only create Clean or Dirty books.
  • 1 Clean Book and 1 Dirty Book Only: If you play with the no Wild Book rule, you can also make it so that the requirement before you go out is that you only need 1 Clean Book and 1 Dirty Book, instead of 2 of each.
  • No Permission Needed: You do not need your partner’s permission to go out. Once you play your second to last card and discard your final card, the round is over.

If you really want to mix things up, try a different rummy game. Other similar games include:


When Can I Pick Up My Foot?

You may only pick up your foot once you empty all the cards in your hand. To clear your hand, you may discard your final card to end your turn. In this case, you would need to wait until your next turn to start playing your foot. However, if you do not need to discard your final card (as in, you can play your final hand card in a meld), you can start playing your foot immediately!

What Does a Player Need to Go Out?

To go out, a player needs 2 dirty books (also known as a dirty meld of 7 cards), 2 clean books (also known as a clean meld of 7 cards), and 1 wild book (also known as a wild meld of 7 cards). These all must contain 7 cards and be squared books. You will also need to empty your foot and your partner’s permission to go out.

How Do You Win Hand and Foot?

After playing four rounds of Hand and Foot, the team with the highest score wins!

How Many Decks of Cards Are Needed to Play Hand and Foot?

You need five 52-card decks with 2 jokers per deck.

Mia Kim


  1. When trying to get to the foot can you make a book with a wild card and then add another card all in the same turn in order to get rid of cards to pick up foot?

    • Hi Sandy, there are no restrictions on how many cards a player can be melded in a turn. If you complete a book and are still able to play a meld this is legal. However, no more than 7 cards can be added to a meld. When a meld reaches 7 cards it is a book, and can not be added to.

    • Hello Theresa,

      In this version of Hand and Foot there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.

      • If it is just two people playing, i understand rules are same, you just play for yourself and not a team, however, would I still need to use 5+ decks of cards?

        • Hi Tina, yes the game requires the full 5 decks. I suppose you can try to play with a lesser amount of deck, but the rules for 2 people still call for the same number of decks.

    • Hi Carol, I do not believe there is a set penalty for this in Hand and Foot. I would suggest offending players must pick back up the wrongly melded cards into their hands. I suppose any kind of penalty could be set into place at the start of the game as long as all players agreed upon it. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Terry, I do not believe so. In hand and Foot a player may draw 2 cards from the stockpile, or 7 cards from the discard pile as long as they follow the needed requirements to do so. A player cannot choose to draw less than 7 from the discard (but may end up drawing less if there are not 7 cards in the pile to begin with) and cannot split their draws between the two piles.

    • Hi Sue, I believe I understand your question but correct me if I am wrong. In your example, you are trying to make a meld of seven 5s, two 4s, and a wild card. This is impossible for a few reasons. A meld must consist of cards all of the same rank, and can only consist of 7 cards in total. You could make two separate melds with the cards in your hand. A completed book of 5s and a meld of two 4s with a wild card.

  2. If you have to discard a wild card what is the option of the next player to pick up that wild card? Do they have to have 2 wild cards to pick up or just 2 of any kind of cards to pick up.

    • Hi Patti, because the rules state that the cards have to be of equal rank of the card drawn, I would say you have to have two cards of the same rank to draw the wild. All three cards have to be melded that turn in regards to the other rules for drawing the wild from the discard pile.

    • Hi Carolyn, while not required, I often use a scoring sheet to make scoring easier. The scaring is only done once during the game though, at the ends, so a cumulative or running score is not kept.

    • Hi Jodi, to answer your question, yes. In order to go out three requirements need to be met. One, the players must have completed all the needed books. Two, both players need to have their feet and the player not going out must have played at least one turn from it. Three, the partner of the going out player must agree for them to go out.

  3. Can a wild card book be laid without all seven cards and added to throughout that hand?

    When a wild card is used to freeze the deck how long is the deck frozen even though seven cars above it have been removed?

    • Hi Al, hopefully I understand your question but if not let me know. To complete a wild book 7 wild cards are need. A book is just a meld until a 7th card is played. To answer your first question, yes you can play a wild meld and add to it throughout the game, but a wild book must have 7 wild cards in it. The second question I am a bit confused by. I don’t think there is any freezing of the deck in this game, maybe you are thinking of Canasta?

  4. In hand and foot, if a card in the stock pile is accidentally face up, do you take the card when it is your time to draw or bury it in the stack?

    • Hi Lynette, if you find a faceup card in the stockpile after the game is underway, I would look through the remaining stock to make sure there were no other cards faceup and reshuffle. Burying it would also be a suitable action, as long as all other cards are facedown in the stockpile.

  5. Recently the opposing team “went out” and I and my partner had 75 points combined in our hands. We only had 50 points in melds on the table as all other melds had been made into books. We also had 4 red threes. We wanted to to take a red three off the table (minus 100) and keep 25 of the points in our hand to count (plus 25). This would equal a net minus 75 points. The other couple said we could not do that and had to break up a book to cover the 25 point difference, thus costing us the 300 point bonus for that book. Or break up a clean book and lose 500 points. I should note we keep score on a “net basis”. Example: If one team has three dirty books and the other has four, the team with four only gets 300 bonus points. The team with three books gets zero bonus points. Your thoughts?

    • Hi Bob, so I don’t think I understand the question, but I will try to answer things based on my knowledge and understanding. Please let me know if this does not help and I will do everything I can to answer your question correctly. I am not sure how you are getting the forth red three, red threes cannot be melded traditionally so if you were holding a red three or drew it, it should already be played on the table. Secondly, I have never heard of breaking a book for any reason, so I am not sure what your friends were referring to with this. Also, the game should end once a team goes out, so if your friends have already gone out, you would not get to place any more red threes from hand or make melds at all. Hopefully, this helps, but if not let me know.

  6. If one team has a red book of 10’s can they make another book of red 10’s or a book of dirty 10’s? therefore there would be 3 books of 10’s for one team.

    • Hi Joan, yes it is technically possible for a team to have 3 books, as long as one of them is a dirty book. This is highly unlikely to happen but still possible. Just remember a completed dirty book may not hold more than 2 wild cards, so at minimum to pull this off a team would need to get 19 of the 20 tens belonging to the game.

  7. My question is this: While playing Hand & Foot, my partner layed down a starting dirty book consisting of one wild card and two 9’s. When my turn came, I had 7 nines in my hand so I laid them all down as a red book. Our opposing team stated that it was not allowed since we already had a dirty book started consisting of 9’s. Can you shed some light on whether we were correct in making a red book out of the 9’s. Thank you.

    • Hi Trish, I looked into your inquiry and did find a source that states that you cannot start a new meld of the same rank until the previous one is finished. Hope this helps and sorry for the confusion. The rules will be updated to reflect this new knowledge.

    • Hi Dolores, the game rules are the same expect each player plays for themselves and not in a partnership. Hope this helps!

  8. If a player lays down 5 cards and then wants to start a dirty meld they are still playing that hand can they add a wild card to the hand to make it dirty?

    • Hi Carl, I’m a little confused by your question but I will try to answer. A player’s turn can consist of making a meld or adding to one they or their partner has previously made. so if you are asking if they can make a meld and then add to it after they have already made it no, they’ll have to wait for the next turn. A meld in itself can be added to as long as it has less than 7 cards. Once a meld has 7 cards it must be squared up and declared a book. I hope this helps and answers your questions.

  9. If a player has started a meld, can the opponent’s partner add a wild to make it a dirty meld when their turn come around.

    • Hi Carl, a player’s partner may add to a meld, as teammates share melds together. Opponents cannot add to the other team’s melds, however, if that is what your question is asking.

    • Hey Linda, you cannot add any card to an already completed book. Once a book has reached its maximum number of cards it must be squared up and cannot be added to or taken from.


    • Hi Richard, you cannot start a second meld of the same rank as another you have started until the first meld of that rank has been completed into a book.

    • Hi Doug, there is not an official rule for how to break ties in Hand and Foot. I may suggest playing an additional game or making a house rule for a tie-breaker! Best of luck!

  11. Question: If, on his turn, a player draws his two cards from the stockpile and both cards are red threes, how many more additional cards is the player entitled to draw because he drew two red threes — 2 cards more or 4 cards more. In other words, when his draw is over, should he have drawn a total of 4 cards, or a total of 6 cards?

    • Hi Beverly, so for each red three that is placed in front of a player with their melds, a replacement is drawn. so if the player in question played the two red threes in front of him, he would then immediately draw two replacement cards. I hope this helps.

  12. If I have six 5s in a meld and the player before me places a 5 on the Discharge Pile, may I pick up the top 7 cards in the Discharge Pile and play the 5 (top card) on my six 5s to complete a Clean Book? Of note, I have no other 5s in my hand when this situation presents itself.

    • Hi Helen, I saw both your questions and hope I can answer them both here. If you mean drawing from the discard pile then yes. You may draw the top seven cards of the discard pile if the top card is a wild card, if you have two wild cards, and you immediately meld three or more wild cards including the wild card drawn. I hope this helps!

  13. Can you pick up the pile with 2 of the same cards in your hand and open the melds for your team before anything else is tabled on your side.? Also can you count the top card toward meeting your opening count?? Also what happens when you only have wild cards for a discard…do you forfeit the game.??

    • Hi Jean, I am not sure what cards you are referring to drawing. if it’s just the top 2 of the stock then yes it is possible to immediately start a meld. Just remember it has to meet the requirements of the opening meld required for the round. If you are referring to the discard you may also draw the discard, if there are less than 7 cards in the discard you must draw the whole discard. The top 3 must be melded (or all if there are less than 3 cards) and these cards can be counted towards your meld minimum. You may also discard wild cards the same as any other, no need to forfeit.

  14. i have a book of 6 10′, when its’ my turn can I place a wild card on the book and make it a dirty book then keep an additional 10 in my hand and play it down later as a count card on a later turn. Object to make a dirty book total of 3 books instead of making a red book that is not needed because you already have 2 red books

    • Hi Tom, yes you can always add a wild to your books. You are not forced to play the 10 even if you have it in your hand.

  15. Hi Amber,
    Thanks for all your answers!
    If I have a meld of 6 5s and also 2 more 5s in my hand when another 5 is discarded, I think I cannot pick up the discarded 5, because I would need to use it to complete the book first and then I would only have two more 5s left that would not be enough to start a new meld, correct?

    • Hi Carl, thank you! It is my pleasure to help in any way I can. As for your example, you are completely correct. Unless you have a 3rd 5 to use to start the meld you would not be able to draw the 5 from the discard.

  16. I have hunted and hunted for the answer to the following question. During an initial meld does a clean book count for the face value? In other words, if I lay down seven sixes as an initial meld will that count as 35 points and seven kings as an initial meld count as 70 points?

    • Hi Patsy, so sorry to hear about you having trouble finding this answer, but yes when you place a meld (or a book if all 7 are laid down at once) they use the sum of the values of their cards for the total value of the meld. When scoring you will also count the additional points for completing a clean book, but that is in addition to the meld value. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Meryl, Hand and Foot is one of the more complicated card games on our site. I am so sorry to hear you are having difficulties with the instructions. if I can answer any questions to help I would be more than happy to. We also have video instructions on how to play HAnd and foot on our youtube channel that may help as well. Here’s a link to that if interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pouzMMQ6-u0
      I hope this helps!

  17. Are you allowed to have four cards in your hand that match and instead of starting a meld and laying down the 4 like cards you pick up the discarded pile and make your meld? We play with this guy that always holds most of his cards and can have 5 or 6 cards that match but he holds them and then lay’s them all out and goes out. My question is can he pick up the discarded pile when he already has enough cards to start a meld?

    • Hi Jan, yes this is allowed. In order to draw from discard, you must hold at least 2 cards of the same rank as the discard, and you may hold more. YOPu must also meld at least 3 cards, but can also meld more as well. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Sue, yes, 5 decks are used for all number of players 2 through 7. The game is best played with 4 players in 2 partnerships. I hope this helps.

  18. Hello, when playing the last round one team declared they went out. This caused one team to mix their hand and foot and cards together believing the game was over. Shortly the team realized they had only completed their hand and still had the foot. Since this was the last round would the game be a draw for both teams at the time since the team who mixed their cards together couldn’t recreate their hands and feet? Or is there some penalty on the team that caused them to mix it by mistakenly claiming they were out. This was a confusing situation that popped up. Thanks for any help.

    • Hi Andrew, there are not any official penalties for this circumstance. I might suggest either a replay of the round or a score penalty for the offending team. I hope this helps.

  19. Are runs (7 cards of 1 suit in order, not including wild cards or threes) played in Hand and Foot? If so, can a card be picked up from the discard pile if it can be used to make the run? For example if you held a 7 and8 of hearts and a 9 of hearts was discarded, could you pick up the 9 to play with the 7 and 8 to start a run?
    Also if the stock pile is depleted but the game is not over, do you reshuffle the discard pile and continue the game?

    • HI Ann, Sequences of cards such as you described above are not used. In Hand and Foot, melds consist of equal ranked cards, and never cards of the same suit in ranking order. I hope this helps.

      • Do you have to discard a card to go out or can you lay all of you cards down and not have a discard?

        • Hi Wendy, here are the three requirements in order to go out: 1) The partnership must have completed 2 dirty books, 2 clean books, and 1 wild book.
          2) One player in the partnership has picked up their ‘foot’ and played at least a single turn from it. (The one who hasn’t played their total foot)
          3) You must receive permission from your partner to go out, meld the remainder of your cards but one, and discard the last card. If your partner denies you, you may not go out.
          In short though, you must keep a single card to meld in order to go out. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Cheryl, to go out measn to have no cards in hand. If you have no cards in hand you have already gone out. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Nancy, you can pick up your foot by discarding both types of 3s. However, if you want to play a red 3 you cannot pick up your foot, as playing a red 3 down in front of you causes you to draw a card.

    • Hi Jill, 3s are not allowed to be melded. Red 3s give you a bonus score at the end of play for each one face up in front of you and penalize you for ones in hand. They cannot be formed into a book. I hope this helps.

  20. I play Hand & Foot in one club, sub in another & may be starting my own with some friends who are interested, & we may have different rules. Each club has their own variation on rules. One example (& there are several): in one club, we have to pick up the entire discard pile. In the other, we can only pick up 5 cards. Here you are saying that you pick up 7 cards. My understanding is that there are no set rules, yet in some of your answers, you call certain plays as not legal. My question for you is this: How do we know which rules are optional (that can be changed) and which rules are basic ones that could not or should not be changed ?
    Thank you so much

    • Hi Ruthann, this is a very interesting question indeed. The Hand and Foot rules on the site (as far as my research would have me believe) are the standard rules. I do try to be mindful of variations when I answer questions but there are so many that this becomes very difficult unless they are specified in the question asked. That being said, if you have any variations or questions pertaining to the standard rulings of hand and foot please feel free to either ask here or for more in-depth responses you can always email the site at info@gamerules.com. Thank you for your question, and I hope you have a lovely day.

  21. I am confused about the rule that says you can either add to a meld or start a meld on your turn but you can’t do both? AM I understanding this correctly. In other words, If I finish a meld of 8’s on my turn I cannot then start a new meld of another number.

    • Hi Sharon, that is correct. You can either add cards to an already established meld or create a new meld, but you cannot do both in a single turn. So for your example, you can finish your meld of 8s, and then you will have to wait till your next turn to start a new meld. I hope this helps.

  22. The group I play with, when making a meld and they have 6 cards on the table, they place the 6th card sideways noting to the other players that the need only 1 more card to make a canasta. Also, you cannot pick up that 7th card from the pile, you have to draw it from the stock. We only pick up the top card from the pile, not 7 cards. Are you aware of any of these rules? Thank you.

    • Hi Patricia I have not heard of any of these variations on the rules, but they seem very interesting.

  23. My question is about discarding wildcards. The rule is you may not play any meld that forces you to discard a wild card. If you have any natural cards in your hand, you may not discard a wild card, you may only discard a wild card when a wild card is the only option. Our version of hand and foot we do not meld wild cards, and wild cards placed on the discard pile are the same as discarding a black three. My question: if holding three wild cards and one king, then drawing two kings from the stockpile, then play 3 kings for my meld leaving me with three wild cards, then discard a wild card, is this legal play? I am told that I must discard one of the kings, and not play the three kings for my meld or play 2 kings and a wild card then discard the third king. This rule effects the making of red or black books, especially when you need a red book to go out. I’ve not found any rules regarding the discarding of wild cards, any thoughts?

    • Hi Raymond, in the version of Hand and Foot I am familiar with there is no rule stating you cannot discard a wild card. As per the rulings you stated in your comment, it would seem it is not a legal play. The ruling you posted says you cannot play a meld that forces you to discard a wild card. Again, I am not familiar with this ruling though. Please let me know if there is anything further I can help you with.

  24. Recently we started plying hand and foot. The rules we used stated that at the close of a dirty book, the wild book couldn’t have more wild cards than natural cards, in other words 4 kings plus 3 wild cards would be a book. During play, could a person start the book with 2 kings and a wild card and on a later play add another wild card? Now there are 2 kings and 2 wild cards. The wild cards do not exceed the number of kings. Is this a correct reasoning?

    • Hi Jean, In the rules, it states that there must be at least double the number of natural cards to wild cards in a dirty meld, but this may just be a difference in the variation of rules. For your question, no you cannot have more wilds than natural cards when melding. you must always follow the rules of having double the natural cards than wild cards.

  25. I am new to this game and still trying to learn the rules, so I apologize if this is a dumb question. Why would one partner need permission from the other partner in order to go out?

    • Hi Vicki, you need your partner’s permission in order to go out because once you do go out the game ends. Your partner might have cards they wish to meld for more points. I hope this helps.

  26. Is there any rule that way you CAN NOT pick up the discard pile when you first meld? I’ve read where you can use the top car in your meld total and I’ve read where you must have your total meld not including the top card but our friends say it’s a rule that you have to have your meld played and you can not pick up the pile at all until your next turn, assuming a card is played that you want.

    • Hi Deborah, I am a little confused by your question. If your question is can you pull from the discard before you have made any melds, the answer is yes. There may be variations that do not allow you to draw from the discard pile, but in the traditional game, a player may draw from the discard pile instead of the draw pile as long as the three requirements are met. These are: The top card of the discard cannot be a (black) three, You must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard, and (At least) three cards must be immediately melded: 2 of equal rank already in hand and the top of the discard. I hope this helps, and if you have any other questions or need further clarification please feel free to reach out again.

  27. Does anyone out there have an answer to this question?.4th round (150 pts). No one has opened. Player one lays down 7 queens (70 pts). He claims that since it is a clean book, it qualifies as 500 points. His team is now open. Is this ok?..Paul Smart (hand and foot)

    • Hi Paul, player one is confused. Clean books are worth 500 points but that’s for scoring at the end of the game. to meet the meld requirement only the card points (the 70 you mentioned) are used. I hope this helps.

  28. I am a new player. If team players sit across from each other, than the the play is: team A, team A, team B, team B. I think I’m missing something

    • Hi Sally, teams should alternate players so you should sit in whatever formation would allow for that if passing to the left. I hope this helps!

  29. We are trying to play with five players, how is this done? Everyone plays their own hand, or a team of 3 and a team of two? Or two teams of 2 and one person plays by their self? With five players how many decks of cards should be used?

    • Hi paula, To play 5-player Hand and Foot, all players play indivuaally. 6 decks are still used. I hope this helps.

  30. I play with a group that is inconsistent in how to SCORE a 1500 run of clean 7s. We count it as 1 clean book AND 1500 points. BUT do we also get to count the seven 5 point cards in our total card count? Some say yes, some say no. Thanks.

    • Hi Marsha, you would score the 500 points for the clean book and score the 7s. I am not sure where the 1500 points are coming from. You only score 1500 for a wild book.

  31. If one player is able to out, but the team has not met the conditions…can the player discard a playable card? Or how does the player avoid going out?

    • Hi Emily, if your partner does not permit you to go out then you must keep tow cards in your hand. One cards to discard and one card to continue playing with. I hope this helps.

  32. Can extra cards be added to closed dirty or clean books? What about wild cards to closed dirty books as long as the total number of wilds does not exceed 3?

    • Hi Ann, no cards cannot be added to closed books. A book can only have 7 cards in it in total. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Martha, an all wild card book is called a wild book and is worth 1500 points. I hope this helps!

    • Hello Martha, To go out you must have 2 red, 2 black, and 1 wild book. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Laurel, In the version of Hand and Foot I am familiar with there is not a bonus for having a certain number of red 3s. I did not find any variation that spoke of this, but Hand and Foot is an incredibly diverse game and there very well may be a variation with this ruling that I am just not familair with.

  33. If the other team goes out and your team doesn’t have enough pts on the table to cover what is in your hand, can you take pts from a completed book and still keep the book value?

    • Hi Jackie, a book can not be taken from, neither can a meld once it is placed on the table. I hope this helps.

  34. we had a situation similar to Jackie Rukan’s scenario from June 23rd… the other team went out and neither of us on our team had gotten into our foot and had cards in our hand. We had books, but no red 3s and a number of cards in melds that were not completed to make a book ( i call that the tableau). However, there were not enough points in the tableau to cover the points from our hand and feet. Do we take enough cards from the books we had to make up the point difference? And if we do that, do they still count as books or do they revert back and get counted as if they were incomplete books/melds on the tableau?

    • Hi Ms V, no you do not “take” cards away from books. To score simply total up all the points you would score from your books and other point sources. Once you have that total you will subtract the points lost from the remaining cards in your hand. This will leave you with your final score. For example, if you had two clean Books and a wild Book that would be 2500 points. If you had cards remaining in hand you would total their value. Lets say between you and your partners remaining hands and foots you have 300 points. you would subtract these 300 points from the 2500 leaving your team with 2200 as your final score. I hope this helps.

  35. We play completely different for one you start with double the decks to people. 6 people=12 decks / 3 people = 6 decks
    you need one clean and one dirty to go out we do not even have “wild” just dirty and clean. I would love to play by the rules here but the people I play with are elders and been playing since childhood so no chance of a change.

    • Hello Alex, thank you for sharing your variation of play with us. Hand and Foot is one of the most variation heavy games to learn, so I understand having a playgroup that only plays one way.

  36. I have a question….I am in my foot I have 2 reds and one black …I have 6 of the 6’s down…and I have a 6 and wild in my hand …can I put bthe duece and 6 down to make a black…but that will make 8 cards…..someone did it the other night…and I do not think that is correct….I think you can only have a pile of 7 6’s and have to wait till next time around… So I would have 7 of the 6’s down and a wild card which makes it 8 please advise

  37. ThanX for your site. There are such varied ways to play Hand And Foot. I have two questions. Not necessarily applied to just Hand And Foot.

    1. Can I change my mind during my turn? Your turn starts when you draw. I lay down a meld of three cards. I decide I do not want to. Or I play a card on a meld of six cards and decide I do not want to. Can I change that play before I end my turn by discarding?

    2. What about helping another player? Some times a player does not see the advantage of playing a card elsewhere. And sometimes during a players turn they just hand wild cards to their partner and say play them anywhere during their turn. It is a team effort.

    What do you think? And I would like to hear from others. ThanX

    • Hello Randy, according to the rules you are not permitted to take cards back into your hand that have been placed on the board, and you are not allowed to help your teammate either. However, I would ask your playgroup if they would be okay with one or both of these suggestions.

    • Hello Randy, questions are held until they can be vetted and answered to ensure accurate answers and a positive and helpful environment on the site.

    • Hi Guy, There is not an official penalty for this in Hand and Foot. Since a player could not successfully go out, then the game continues. I hope this helps.


  39. Can you please speak to the flexibility of rules by agreement. (Particularly for going out.)
    Needing permission to go out is counterintuitive. If my teammate has had several turns to play and has not seen the wisdom in clearing their hand, the team should not suffer…and thus lose a large advantage & allowing the opponent to catch up. (Or in many cases, actually outscore my team.)

    • Hello L, it would be valid to ask your play group to alter the rules if you are finding this experience frustrating. Hand and Foot is known for its countess variations!

    • Hi Karen, Hand and Foot is a game with a ton of known variations so there are a lot of ways to play. This site recommends for two players 5 standard decks. You can play with the rules on the site as 2-player rules just ignoring the requirements set for partners as you will be playing alone. Alternatively, you can play that each player gets dealt 15 cards, draw two on their turns, and must have two fo each needed books in order to go out. I hope this helps. Let me know if I can answer any further questions.

  40. We play hand and foot in a virtual world setting. Are players allowed to communicate (discuss what cards they are holding) during play via private messages?

    • Hi Julianna, in traditional Hand and Foot partners are not allowed to table talk, but if all parties playing the game agree to this I see nothing wrong with it.

  41. Hi. A player has laid down 3 wild cards as the beginning of a book. The next turn the player decides to put 4 8’s on the wild cards to make a black book. Are the wilds protected as a book like the 5’s and 7’s?

    • Hi Greg, a player cannot put down 3 wild cards to start a book. You can only meld a total of two wild cards into a book and the meld must always remain with twice as many natural cards as wilds. So the player would have had to make a meld with the wild and two 8s in order for it to be a legal play.

  42. We play with different groups and each group plays by a different set of rules.

    1. Does the “Wild” book have to be all 2’s or can it be a mixture of Joker and Dueces?
    2. Can one player in a team play all of their cards and have an empty hand if the team does not have the required books to go out? I.E. If you have a card that plays but you don’t have anything else to throw away, do you have to throw that card away? If they were empty handed then they would just continue to draw 2 cards on their next turn??
    3. Is there such a “book” that when you have seven sevens it is worth 2000 points?
    4. If you have a current meld going but it isn’t complete, can you pick up from the discard pile and play all seven cards to add to different melds? IE: you have an already started meld of 4 Kings and 3 Queens and pick up the discard pile that has a King, 2 Queens and some other cards. Can you add those Kings and Queens to the already started melds? Also, can you count the already started meld as your two needed cards to pick up from the discard pile??

    • Hi Michell, so I would like to preface my answers by saying that Hand and Foot is one of the most variable games out there. It has countless variations and reginal changes, not to mentions changes passed along through households. It is very common for different groups to play with different rules and when I personally play Hand and Foot I always ask about rules up front so I know.
      1. In most of the rules I have seen the wild book can be made of jokers and 2s.
      2. unless your partner permits you to go out you must end each turn with two cards in hand, one to discard and one to keep playing with. You may not meld or make a play that would leave you with no cards in hand unless you have permission and plan to go out.
      3. I have not personally heard of this type of book, and have never played with it.
      4. In order to draw from the discard you must have two cards that are the same rank as the top of the discard in your hand. Your melds on the table do not count for this. Then three cards must be melded (the two matching cards and the top) and then others may be melded as well. So for your example to work you would have to have 2 Kings in hand and the top of the discard must be the King. You would meld the three kings and then you may meld the queens.
      I hope this helps let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

  43. Please explain what you mean by – you may not start a new meld and meld cards on your turn. You must choose which action you wish to do

    • Hi Wendy, it means that on your turn you may either place down a new meld of three cards of the same rank or you may add cards from your hand to an already established meld that belongs to you or your partner. You may not, however, do both of these in the same turn.

  44. When a hand is finished and one person goes out, what happens to the count in his partners hand?

    • Hi Sallie, when one player goes out so will the other player. If they still have cards in hand or foot these will be subtracted from the team’s score.

  45. We had an instance today while playing hand & foot. We went out & our opponent wanted to use a black book to cover cards in their hands, or feet. Then count their cards in that black book as well in their total count. I objected!
    Who was correct?

    • Hi Donna, I am not sure what you mean by “covering cards”. Both melds and the cards in the melds are scored then the scores for the cards remaining in your hand and foot should be subtracted from your total score. I hope this helps.

  46. Hello Amber. Example is I have two kings in my hand and three kings melded down on the table from a previous turn. On my next turn I decide to pick up the pile which has a king on top. Can I play the two kings from my hand and the king I picked up from the pile on the existing meld of three kings on the table? Thanks!

  47. I have a question: Last night while playing Hand and Foot a question came up. Who is the winner? We will abide by your answer. One team completed all their melds (2 clean books, 2 dirty books, 1 wild card book and 1 book of 7’s) and had accumulated all the points necessary to end the game. The other team had not completed all their melds. (a wild book nor a book of 7’s) However, they had accumulated more points. One team feels they were the winners because they completed all the requirements and went out. The other team feels they won just because they had accumulated more points. According to the rules for this card game, who is correct?

    • Hi Barbara, Hand and Foot games are usually played over four rounds with accumulating point totals. If only playing one round for the game then the team with the most points at the end of the round wins the game.

  48. I have five queens in my hand, and wish to start a meld. I choose to meld three queens, and keep two queens in my hand, in the event my opponent discards a queen that I can then pick up (the rules say I must have two like cards in hand,to pick up from the discard pile). My opponent objects to this, and says I must meld all five queens at once. Am I obligated to place all five queens when beginning the meld?

    • Hi Ken, nope you are completely correct. You are not obligated to meld all cards of the same rank from your hand, as long as a meld is started with 3 cards of the same rank. However, if this is your first meld of the round you must make sure to meet the meld requirement for the round.

  49. I have completed ALL of my melds and have two wild cards in my hand. How can I complete my turn if I can’t discard a wild card?

    • Hi Robert, in the version of Hand and Foot we have posted, there is no penalty for discarding wild cards.

  50. Our group rules that you can play on multiple melds during your turn. The question is:
    We have our wildcard book completed. I have 2 wildcards in my hand (or foot) and the top card in the discard pile is a wildcard. Can I pickup the top 7 cards from the discard pile and play the 3 wildcards on different melds to turn them black?

    • Hi Lauren, you would have to meld at least all three wild cards. In our rule set you may only meld to your own or your partner’s melds. You would have to follow wild melding rules, and not exceed the number of wilds allowed. If you add wilds to a meld they will become dirty. This would be possible.

  51. Here is my group’s alternate (and it seems to me, simpler) way of playing H&F: We play with one more deck than there are people (i.e. 6 people 7 decks). Four people have teams of two while six people have teams of three. We do not have wild books and we count red threes as 100 points against if left in your hand at the end of play, never for. Black threes are used for nothing but discards and only count 5 points against. We require dirty books to only have one more natural card than wild (i.e. four naturals plus three wilds) Incomplete dirty melds can never have more or equal wilds than naturals. To go down, a player must have at least one dirty and one clean meld equal to the amount of opening points required for each round. If a player wants to pick from the discard pile, that player must have two cards of the same value in their hand and must take the top two cards. To win the round, the player going out must have at least two clean and three dirty books for four players and three clean and four dirty for six players. For scoring, we simply count the dirty and clean books first and then add all the cards together for additional points. We keep score for all four rounds and the team with highest score wins. Other than the aforementioned changes, we play the same in every other regard.

  52. My question is this…hope it makes sense.
    Our group sometimes runs out of cards in the stock pile and dont wish to reshuffle the discard pile as there would be no “good” cards in it…i.e…wild cards and red threes BUT on a rare occassion the required types of books have not been meet yet. What happens?
    Do we just count points against and for and continue on to the next hand?

    • Hi Mary, the game ends when the stockpile is depleted and no player wishes to draw from the discard.

  53. Question: I have a five card meld and 2 cards of the same rank in my hand. If my opponent plays a card of that same rank is it acceptable to us the 2 cards in my have to pick up from the discard pile?

    • if you have two cards of the same rank as the card you are taking from the discard and you immediately meld the three cards of the same rank, that is a valid play. However, the top card of the discard cannot be a black 3.

    • Hi Kayla, no, your foot is always played secondary and you cannot look at it until you’ve emptied your Hand.

  54. In reading Lauren’s question from June 28, 2023, she states she has 2 wilds in hand and wants to pick up the pile and then redistribute the wilds to other melds. I was under the impression if you picked up the pile, the 3 cards involved had to be used to create a new meld, or added TOGETHER to another meld. So, you are stating that as long as the 3 cards are melded ANYWHERE, it is ok? Another question: If all of the cards from the hand are played, can the foot be picked up and immediately played from, or do you have to discard and wait til your next turn? Thank you for your help. Jane Getman (a new player!)

    • Hi Jane, Yes, in Hand and Foot, after you draw from discard, you must meld at least the 3 cards needed to make it a legal draw. They can be melded to any legal place and more the these 3 cards may be melded as well. For your second question, if you meld your last card of your hand you will pick up your foot and complete your turn. If you discard the last card from your hand you will pick up your foot and wait until your next turn to play. I hope this helps!

  55. I am trying to learn some of the rules before I start playing with a card club. i don’t understand the rules concerning the first meld value that changes each round. what would be an example of a 150 point meld for Round 4??

    • Hi Eileen, Hand and Foot is a game that has many variations across the country. I would make sure to ask your club for the rules they abide from just to make sure you are ready to play. In this version you’ve requested an example of a first meld for round 4. One example is a meld of 5 sevens and 2 jokers. This creates a completed dirty book and it’s meld value is 150. I hope this helps.

  56. In dealing the cards out, after all have their hands dealt to them, how many cards are placed up on the discard pile… what cards are allowed in that pile… can there be pairs in that discard pile? some say no, some say yes. Only red threes and wild cards are not allowed. Is this true? Please explain…

    • Hello Kate, Hand and Foot is a game with countless variations from across the country. In the version on our site, after the hand and foot have been dealt, the discard pile is made by flipping one card over from the stock. If this card is a red three or a joker, then it is buried back into the stock an a new card is revealed. No cards are banned from the discard. I hope this helps.

  57. Could you please tell me at what score do you meld at each different level of 50, 90, 120 and 150.
    Or do you just meld the higher at each round?
    I used to play original canasta and you would have to meld 90, for example, when you reach 1500 points or higher.
    Have not been able to find the rules that apply to hand and foot.

    • Hi Joanne, meld requirements are based on round and not point totals. Each round the meld requirement increases. I hope this helps.

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